Ten Hallmarks of American Democracy To Protect

The other night, Rachel Maddow listed ten hallmarks of American Democracy that make it uniquely American. If any of these are threatened or eliminated, we have lost a key part of our national character, and a key freedom that we cannot take for granted.

I thought it would be helpful to post this checklist, so that I (and you) can refer back to it if need be. I will be using this in the coming months as a gauge of the impact of the Trump presidency on the American experiment.

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Why Holly Warlick Should Get Another Year

(cross-posted from Rocky Top Talk)

As I write this, it is the morning after the Alabama loss … the morning after the Lady Vols set yet two more negative records: most SEC losses ever, and losing to Bama for the first time ever in the regular season. The team appears to be imploding, and no one can stop it, least of all Head Coach Holly Warlick. This is becoming, or has already become, the worst Lady Vol season since before the Summitt era.

And yet, even now, I firmly believe Holly Warlick should be back next year as head coach. Here is why.

Read moreWhy Holly Warlick Should Get Another Year

The Four Questions for Choosing Our Democratic Nominee

(cross-posted from Daily Kos)

Here we are, in the middle of the hottest summer on record, watching the 2016 primaries get just as hot, with pies flying so fast and furious that the Flag Guy is having to duck.

In the midst of the sturm und drang, I thought it might be helpful to have something more than just pie, policy, and emotion as tools for picking our next Democratic standard bearer to take on the Regressives. How about some questions, with scoring? You fill out the questionnaire, score it, and boom! – there’s your nominee.

So, having perked up a pot of java, I sat down to design the Presidential Preference Questionnaire. And guess what? After much scratching on 3×5 cards, it all boiled down to four questions. Just four. And I’m going to share them with you, right now, for free.

Read moreThe Four Questions for Choosing Our Democratic Nominee

Fuzzy Journalism at WFPL re Conway

So I’m scanning Facebook today and came across the same post many of you saw:

Both Major Candidates For Governor Want To Drug Test Welfare Recipients

It was from Ryland Barton at WFPL, and was a link to his story of the same name.

At first, I was upset. What was Jack Conway doing putting out a position like this? Then I actually read the story. And I realized that what was wrong here was not Jack’s position on the issue, but WFPL’s headline. It was at best misleading, and at worst? Designed to be clickbait.

Let’s take a look.

Read moreFuzzy Journalism at WFPL re Conway

Why I Cannot Run for Office Again

Last year (2014), I took time off from writing to run for local office — specifically, Metro Council. It was a learning experience, a time-consuming experience, a demanding experience … but a great experience. I loved campaigning, I actually enjoyed knocking on doors and meeting people, I even got to where I was okay with the necessary “dialing for dollars.” I knocked on over 6,000 doors, made some new friends, and gave it my best shot.

But I can’t do it again.

Read moreWhy I Cannot Run for Office Again

How to Fight for Change Without Being Mean

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately, as I do more and more writing on this page, as I try to do more and more advocacy, AND as we prepare to launch a progressive community site for the city. There are some truths that I operate from, that seem to be at odds with each other:

  • Silence is not an option.
  • Bad ideas, policies, and actions must be challenged.
  • Change only happens when either the leaders decree it (top-down) or when enough people want it (bottom-up).
  • Evil must be challenged. (And yes, there are “evil” acts and other things in the world.*)
  • People themselves are not evil.
  • Satire and snark are sometimes the best way to call out bad ideas, bad policies, and bad actions.
  • We are all part of the human race, and brothers and sisters because of that.
  • You don’t mistreat your brothers and sisters.
  • Hate is not an option.

So, on the one hand, we have to be active in the fight against the bad, willing to call out others and take unpopular stands, hoping to win enough people over to our side to effect change from the bottom-up. On the other hand, we must do it in such a way that we do not hate, we must not turn those we oppose into the Other, and we must remember that ultimately we are one family.

This is hard. To do this well and consistently is really, really hard.

But we must find a way.

So, here are some guidelines I’m adopting for myself, and possibly for this new site I’m helping launch:

Read moreHow to Fight for Change Without Being Mean

Elections, Government, Democracy — It’s All for Sale

(Warning — this is a depressed rant. If you are allergic to rants, or depression, you should probably read something else.) So here’s the latest. The Club for Growth, a well-known right-wing PAC, colluded with the Scott Walker campaign multiple times, a clear violation of campaign finance laws. In addition, when corporation donated to the … Read moreElections, Government, Democracy — It’s All for Sale

Matt Bevin Asks the State To “Accommodate” Discrimination

I really don’t get what is so hard to understand: the First Amendment gives you the right to practice your own religion, but not to harm or discriminate against others. As I pointed out in this earlier post, using a “religious freedom” argument in this way is both incorrect and ultimately harmful to religion itself.

And yet, Matt Bevin doesn’t get it. He somehow believes that being a Christian gives you the right to pick and choose which legal requests you will accept. Years ago it was inter-racial marriage; now it’s gay marriage. In both cases, though, the real word is simple: discrimination.

Read moreMatt Bevin Asks the State To “Accommodate” Discrimination

My Ongoing Contact Management Challenges

If you’re like me, you’ve got friends all over the electronic landscape: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, you name it. Which means all of those are potentially also “contacts.” And, of course, you’ve got your real contacts — those people that would normally be in your Rolodex, if we still used such carbon-based approaches to managing … Read moreMy Ongoing Contact Management Challenges